Is it a performance issue?
Or a conduct issue? The simplest way to view this is Can't V Won't.
If the employees CAN'T do something, then this is a performance/capability iss
If the employee can do it, but WON'T this should be dealt with through a disciplinary process. It maybe in the course of investigations that you find the issue is one or the other.
There's a great book called Drive by Dan Pink that I often refer to for motivation theory. He says there are 3 main motivators
- Autonomy; let the employee have input into their objections and ensure you don't start to micro manage.
- Mastery; learning new skills and developing these. This can be as easy as offering them training opportunities.
- Purpose; The why. Understanding how their role fits into the bigger picture.
You should be having regular meetings and reviews with your team, whether that's in person or via a video call. Make sure you are giving employees frequent feedback, holding (at least) annual appraisals and keeping records of these meetings and the employee's performance. It is very difficult to take formal action regarding someone's performance if you have no evidence that you have ever raised the issue before, plus its not fair to spring it on an employee who has had no idea that they are not doing what might be required.
Managing performance is really one of THE main duties for a people manager and should be discussed regularly as above. It can be a bit awkward to raise with someone, but the sooner you let them know what they are doing that is good - and what is not so good, the sooner they can hopefully get back on track.
If this doesn’t work…
Sadly sometimes the informal approach does not work and may need to take more formal action.
Where this is required you would usually meet with the employees to discuss your concerns, understand any underlaying issues that might be causing this, identify any training need and agree with them an improvement plan. This should include clear measurable objectives and timescales. You should ensure the employee is also aware of what may be the consequence if they fail to improve.
Where performance is still not improving
If at the end of the review period the employee's performance up to the level required, you may need to hold another hearing or extend the period of review. It may be that at this point you give them a formal first or final written warning.
If after a reasonable time there is no significant improvement, you may need to consider dismissal or other options, for example, redeploying them into another suitable job.
Employees would not usually be dismissed for performance issues if they have not received any previous warnings. However, if the employee's performance/negligence has caused the company serious loss, they may be dismissed without prior warning and in some cases, without notice.
The ACAS Code of Practice…
You must remember to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, which gives the main steps that need to be taken when dealing with poor performance issues e.g. allowing the employee to be accompanied at the disciplinary hearing and allowing an appeal.